Renzie’s Typhoon Ondoy Experience

Share This Post: personal post-disaster processing, with Renzie Baluyut.

It is the end of Day Two- the second day after Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana poured down an unearthly amount of rain over the entire city .  I headed for the Pasig apartment earlier on, which was actually the first time since the floodwaters hit.

Taken by my friend, Jam Mayer-Flores, who was on her way with her husband Mon, to rescue some friends and family in Marikina the day after the rains hit.
Taken by my friend, Jam Mayer-Flores, who was on her way with her husband Mon, to rescue some friends and family in Marikina the day after the rains hit.

The entire time that Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana was raining down on Metro Manila, I was fortunate enough to have been in the Quezon City office (well, it’s actually a house that doubles as an office).

I remembered it was raining the night before, just as I was getting ready for bed.  No real cause for alarm- it wasn’t even storm-level rains.  Just regular rainy-season-variety rain.  The only indication I had that there was something wrong was when I woke up the next day, and was told that the cars parked in the backyard had to be moved because the water levels were rising.

Turns out it had been raining all night- which by itself, wasn’t much of an indication- but when we looked out the window, there it was: there was a lake forming in the backyard- something that has never happened before, according to one of our partners, who pretty much lived in this area of Quezon City all her life.

Over a late breakfast (it was almost noon by this time), reports were already pouring in on how certain parts of Quezon City were experiencing flash floods.   Now normally with this kind of rain, you’d already expect the usual places to be flooded up- España/Quezon Boulevard, the area of Banawe and Del Monte, Araneta Avenue, parts of Cubao perhaps.  Elsewhere in Metro Manila- the area of Navotas and Malabon flood up pretty quickly too, as are areas along dela Rosa, Buendia, Pasong Tamo and Vito Cruz Extension in Makati, as well as parts of Taft Avenue in Mandaluyong and the Boni Circle in Mandaluyong.

And then we hear Timog Avenue is flooding up, as well as parts of Valle Verde (in Pasig City) and Greenbelt (in Makati).  You usually don’t have floods in those areas.  A quick look online was what we needed, and the chatter on Facebook was confirming the unbelievable: the entire Metro Manila was flooding up.

How could this happen, I thought to myself.  Was it an issue of drainage?  Apparently much more water was coming in than there was going out.  It was much later on that I realized: it was the sheer volume of water.

It wasn’t one of those days when it’s raining in Quezon City, but it wasn’t raining in Makati or in Parañaque.  It was raining EVERYWHERE in Metro Manila.  For what seemed to be eight straight hours right about now.  So much water in so little time.  Some people were even comparing Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana with Hurricane Katrina:

Hurricane Katrina dumped OVER AN INCH of rainfall in Louisiana for 3 hours and another 0.5 inches per hour over the next 5 hours on August 29, 2005. Ondoy dumped an AVERAGE OF 2.24 INCHES per hour for six hours… and is still going.

I thought it was an unfair comparison.  Katrina at least, had the courtesy to announce her presence with strong- well, hurricane-force winds.  Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana was a sneaky little bastard.  Metro Manila had no idea whatsoever.  We were all lulled into a false sense of security thinking that it was just another rainy day.

This used to be a busy thoroughfare, but now looks like a scene straight out of Cloverfield or War of the Worlds.  Marikina, Pasig and Cainta are some of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana
Marcos Highway all muddied up. This used to be a busy thoroughfare, but now looks like a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic future. Marikina, Pasig and Cainta are some of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana

As you can see from the pictures, it’s a completely different, and ultimately tragic, story. Almost a hundred lives have been lost, a lot more missing or still unaccounted for, on top of several thousands displaced, and property damage that’s just completely unheard of.

The rains have stopped as early as Sunday.  Rescue and relief operations were underway.  The whole Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana incident made me think:  would something like this ever happen again?  Some people said flooding like this last happened some 42 years ago.  But with the way climate change has been messing around with the regular air patterns and weather conditions, I say this is just a taste of things to come.

Something to think about, really.

Now, I haven’t been home in days.  Not for lack of trying.  As of this writing, the water levels were still hip-deep.  People were wading through the murky muddy floodwaters trying to get all sorts of supplies: fresh drinking water, food, diapers for the babies.  And while I know the apartment sustained a considerable amount of water damage, I know others have it much worse than I do, and that my problems, however significant, really pales in comparison.

Nevertheless, we pick up the pieces and move on.  And as we do so, we help others along the way.

Another picture taken by Mon and Jam.  Youd see overturned vehicles everywhere as a result of floodwaters tearing through the streets the day before.  Yes, it was that bad.
Another picture taken by Mon and Jam. You'd see overturned vehicles everywhere as a result of floodwaters tearing through the streets the day before. Yes, it was that bad.

Click here if you want to know how you can help the victims of Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana.

You can also check out my previous posts on Typhoon Ondoy /Ketsana here.

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